Monday, October 20, 2014
The Story Tellers
The Ponnivala legend has been recorded, at least in part, on palm leaves and in one early European-style chapbook. However, the oral version described above (the one I have used) is far more straightforward, is more easily understood and is exceptionally detail-rich. Dating the Legend of Ponnivala is impossible but its core events roughly reflect the history of the region in question between about 1000 and 1500 AD. The story, as told there, aligns with and compares to stone and copper inscriptions available from this same period. The other more literary versions referred to may reflect the earlier preservation efforts of various scribes, but their texts have long since morphed into literary and poetic re-creations, a process similar to what happened in the effort to preserve several other famous Nordic traditions just now mentioned above.
Stylistically the Ponnivala epic performance somewhat resembles the Finnish Kalevala and also is somewhat similar to the (translated) corpus of Icelandic sagas. Indeed our Ponnivala text(s) lie somewhere in between these two Nordic paradigms. (See Elder Brothers Story Vols. I & II, collected, translated and edited by B. Beck with Tamil and in English, on facing pages, Institute of Asian Studies, Madras, Tamilnadu, India). This two volume set contains more poetry and song than an Icelandic Saga does, but does not present the reader with a full-length metred and highly poetic text. Ponnivala’s extensive song segments highlight character feelings while its long conversational sections lend the story great immediacy and realism. The third element, Ponnivala’s narrative segments, serve to tie everything together with strong logical threads, giving the story its basic “this-and-then-that-happened” structure.
~ Brenda E.F. Beck
Posted by Ponnivala Publishing at 11:26